Preakness News: Mine That Bird still deciding on Baltimore

May 03, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

WNST just received this press release from Maryland Racing:

The eyes of the racing world shift from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course as the Triple Crown players set their sights on Baltimore for the 134th running of the Preakness® Stakes on May 16.

This morning trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. informed a Maryland Jockey Club official that a decision on Mine That Bird, the stunning 50-1 winner of yesterday’s Kentucky Derby, will be made in a day or two.

“The Preakness was not on our radar leading up to the Derby but we are absolutely going to look at it,” Woolley said. “We are still trying to grasp what happened yesterday. First time in the Derby and to win it at 50-1, it is a humbling experience.”

The last time the Derby winner skipped the Preakness was 1996 when Grindstone was injured in-between the two big races and retired. Prior to that Spend a Buck opted for the Jersey Derby in 1985. The Kentucky Derby winner has reached the finish line first at historic Old Hilltop seven times in the last 12 runnings.

Trainer Gary Stute announced this morning that Papa Clem, who finished fourth at Churchill Downs, is a definite Preakness starter. The son of Smart Strike, who won the Arkansas Derby in his previous start, is scheduled to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn next Wednesday, May 13.

“I looked at the charts this morning and I was only beaten a nose and a head for second,” Stute said. “To be honest Baffert’s horse (Pioneerofthe Nile) came over and bumped me. If it were a normal race there might have been an inquiry. With any luck we could have been second.”

Stute’s father, Mel trained 1986 Preakness winner Snow Chief, who finished 11th in the Derby as the 2-1 favorite.

“Preakness day was the happiest day of my life,” added Stute. “Snow Chief ran so badly in the Kentucky Derby and we could never figure out why. The Preakness provided a little bit of redemption. It was a special day.”

Other possible Preakness starters out of yesterday’s “Run for the Roses” include runner-up Pioneerofthe Nile, third place finisher Musket Man, Join in the Dance (7th), General Quarters (10th) and betting favorite Friesan Fire (18th).

Four potential new shooters are Big Drama (Delta Jackpot winner); Mr. Fantasy (Withers winner); Take the Points (fourth, Santa Anita Derby) and Miner’s Escape (Tesio winner).

The Preakness is limited to 14 starters. Fourteen of the last 17 years have seen double-digit starters.

COMMENT: I sure hope Mine That Bird comes to Baltimore. The 50-1 #8 horse at the Derby looked like he was shot out of a cannon in that final turn. Was it a fluke? Hopefully we’ll find out if he comes here to Maryland. Anybody have any money on this horse? Given that he was wearing #8 and has the name Bird and there was a certain Hall of Fame baseball player who wore #8 and played for the Birds I would think some people in this town likely bet him?? And seeing that the best hockey player in the NHL, who plays just down the road, is wearing #8 (Alex Ovechkin) and helped knock off the Penguins in game 1 yesterday on NBC I figure perhaps some Caps fans wagered on him too? Sadly, I didn’t have money on the colt but I did manage to come out ahead as I had Bob Baffert’s horse bet across the board. I sure hope Baffert, who loves Baltimore and the Preakness, comes to town with Pioneerofthe Nile.